Is Horace and Pete worth your $5?
Is Louis CK’s mysterious new sitcom Horace and Pete worth the $5 download charge? The answer to that depends largely on what you enjoy the most about CK’s solo show Louie. If you watch Louie for the big laughs and awkward sitcom-esque scenarios, Horace and Pete probably won’t be your cup of tea. If, however, you like the existential angst and bold experimentation of CK’s weirder moments, you may have just found your new favourite show.
Over 60 minutes in length, Horace and Pete is essentially a filmed play about the rather pathetic lives of bar owner Horace (CK, still not the greatest dramatic actor but occasionally very good) and his off-the-meds brother Pete (Steve Buscemi, good towards the end but otherwise given surprisingly little to do). Along with the titular duo, we also get their foul mouthed uncle (Alan Alda, excelling in an against-type role), Horace’s younger girlfriend (Rebecca Hall, a decent cameo) and Jessica Lange as a feisty old barfly. None of the characters are very happy, conversations ranging from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to a fifty year jail sentence to illegitimacy. A few of the conversations are interesting, especially between Alda, CK, and cameoing Edie Falco, but like the worst of theatre, too many conversations between the barflies ramble on without any real purpose.
It may be jarring when, in the first five minutes, you realise Horace and Pete isn’t even remotely a comedy, or a sitcom (presumably people assumed based on CK’s involvement). CK has always had grander visions than just being a stand-up comedian; his early shorts were arthouse, black and white affairs, whilst his mainstream appearances have been limited to Oscar winners like Blue Jasmine and American Hustle. Horace and Pete is possibly CK’s first completely dramatic script, and it’s nice to see a successful performer using their fame and appeal to experiment and create content beyond standard TV and film. CK distributes his stand up specials and now Horace and Pete through his website, negating studios and labels entirely. It’s an impressive feat, and hopefully that will lead to classic comedy and drama in years to come.
Sadly, Horace and Pete isn’t quite there yet. The classy acting, stark visual style, and occasional dramatic revelations keep the show watchable, and Louis CK is a good enough writer-director that just about anything he produces is worth the time to watch (Pootie Tang aside). Horace and Pete just isn’t a television show or a film; it’s filmed theatre, and so its rambling monologues and often repetitive dialogue aren’t particularly exciting or interesting to watch. Though there are flashes of inspiration and some of CK (and Alan Alda)’s finest acting to date, Horace and Pete just isn’t engrossing or dramatic enough to fully warrant its $5 price.
By Harry J. Ford
Follow Ford On Film on twitter: @Ford_On_Film
Like Ford On Film on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FordOnFilm/